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Peter Rogers's Blog
Artist-in-Residence at Chez Firth

Monday (10/17/11) 8:19am - ... wherein Peter sorts out insurance.

There are two significant financial things I want to sort out for the Long Vacation:  my insurance, and my banking.  This is the post about insurance.

[Note:  I'm going to un-friendslock this post in a month or so, so don't say anything below that you wouldn't say in public.]

The Bare Minimum
The bare minimum that I need to do before I leave work is that I need to set up health insurance for myself.  I see two obvious choices.  First, I can use COBRA to continue paying into my current health-insurance plan.  It's a very nice plan.  It would cost me about $350/month.[1]  Alternately, I could go with the sort of plan that museofchaos has, which pays 100% after a $3,500 deductible.  It costs him about $110/month.  I'd probably pay more, as I'm older and not as healthy.  Also, I'm sure my chronic-pain problems won't be covered (pre-existing condition), but those problems look like they're on the way out anyway.


The More Elaborate Plan
Now, if I want to be more elaborate with my planning, I would also want to adjust my existing policies -- renter's insurance and car insurance -- to allow for higher deductibles.  (And maybe jump ship to other insurance companies for both of these.)

I would also want to add an 'umbrella policy'.  An umbrella policy is basically your "Oh shit, I'm getting sued!" insurance.  So long as your existing policies meet set limits (say, $250,000) for liability, then the umbrella policy covers anything past that -- legal fees, punitive damages, and so on.  They sell it in million-dollar increments.  Since you're unlikely to ever get sued, it's cheap -- maybe $150 a year -- but if you have assets to protect, it's a sensible investment.  If you accidentally clip someone with your car, hey!, you don't face a lifetime of financial ruin!

I don't think I'll replace my life insurance, as I have no dependents.  I doubt I'll replace my long-term disability insurance, either.


My Current Policies
Mostly for my own benefit, here are the policies I have right now.

First, I have auto insurance on my car (which has a blue-book value of about $11,000 right now) through Progressive.

For liability, I'm insured at $100k/person, $300k/accident, $100k/property damage.  I have $5k/person in Personal Injury Protection coverage.  (That might be redundant to my medical insurance.)  For uninsured/underinsured motorist, I'm insured at $100k/person, $300k/accident, and $100k/property damage (with a $250 deductible).  I'm covered for collision with a $500 deductible and comprehensive with a $500 deductible.  It's paid up through 3/10/12.

Second, I have renter's insurance through Travelers.  It covers $36k of personal property, $4k for property off premises, $300k in personal liability, $2k/person in medical payments, and $7k of "loss of use coverage" -- which is insurance-speak for "Peter has to live somewhere else while his wrecked home gets repaired".  There is a 'clause 3' (no idea what clause 3 is) deductible of $361.  The policy is paid up through 4/1/12.


Finding an Agent
Ideally, I want to locate an insurance agent that can work all this out for me.  The problem here is that agents work on commission, so they have an inherent conflict of interest.  I want to find a good agent, not an agent who will set me up with the best policies to line his own pocket.  The hivemind was little use here.  The yelp reviews haven't been that informative.  I think I'm left tracking somebody down on my own.

I suppose my best bet is to use the CPCU Society's "Find a Broker" page to at least find somebody who has CPCU qualifications.  Or maybe I can contact the Society of Certified Insurance Counselors and see if they can give me a list of CIC-certified agents in Austin.


The Plan
My current plan is to switch over to Kareem's health insurance, and plan to continue it through the end of March.  In the meantime, if I start working out of my home, I'll contact Travelers to see if I need to adjust the liability policy on my renter's insurance to account for that.

Then, come February, I'll get in touch with a CPCU insurance agent, explain my situation, and line up health, renters', auto, and umbrella policies that are more in line with what I'm looking for:  higher deductibles, but thorough coverage against major financial catastrophes.  Also, by the time mid-April comes around, that should mark six months since my last chronic-pain treatment, which means (for most policies) that my pre-existing condition drops off the map.

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[1] I need to double-check this figure with H.R.

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